Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The 12th-ranked Wichita State Shockers put their eight-game win streak on the line when they play host to the Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago in a Missouri Valley Conference clash on Wednesday night.
Loyola enjoyed an impressive start to the season, as the team sprinted out to an 11-2 record, which included a run of seven straight victories in the month of December. Since the calendar changed over to 2015 however, the Ramblers have gone just 2-5, and they've lost their last three decisions, including a 72-61 setback at Indiana State this past Saturday.
Wichita State continues to pile up the wins, as the team's current run of success has elevated its stature in both the Missouri Valley Conference as well as on the national stage. The Shockers come in sporting an 18-2 overall record, which includes a perfect 8-0 league ledger, and they will be seeking their 11th home in as many opportunities this evening.
These two teams met on Jan. 11 in Chicago with the Shockers prevailing in a 67-53 final. Tekele Cotton led WSU with 16 points, while Fred VanVleet logged a double-double consisting of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Earl Peterson paced the Ramblers with 13 points in the losing effort.
As a result, Wichita State increased its lead in the all-time series to 21-9.
Montel James scored 18 points, but he was the only player to reach double figures for Loyola in its recent loss at Indiana State. The Ramblers shot 44.6 percent from the floor, but missed two-thirds of their 3-point tries (4-of-12) and nearly half of their free throws (7-of-13). The Sycamores on the other hand, shot the lights out in draining 53.3 percent of their field goal attempts, which included a 12-of-23 showing from beyond the arc. Both teams were rather careless with the basketball, combining for 40 turnovers.
Despite a solid shooting performance (.468 FG percentage, .396 3-point FG percentage), the Ramblers are averaging only 63.8 ppg this season. They feature a pair of double-digit scorers in Christian Thomas and Milton Doyle, although at just 12.4 and 11.5 ppg, respectively, there aren't many coaches losing sleep over how best to defend them. Fortunately for Loyola, it has played well at the defensive end for the most, as it allows just 60.7 ppg in holding foes to a mere 30.3 success on their long-range launches. Doyle is expected to miss this game as he continues to nurse a sprained ankle.
Ron Baker hit for 15 points and Cotton added 10 more to help Wichita State rout visiting Drake on Sunday, 74-40. In all, 15 Shockers saw action in the blowout, nine of which received double-digit minutes. The squad knocked down 51.9 percent of its total shots, including nine treys, while committing only five turnovers compared to 17 for the Bulldogs. Drake missed the mark on eight of its 10 3-point chances, as part of a 38.5 percent overall shooting effort. WSU won the battle on the boards, 31-25, while also securing favorable margins in points in the paint (28-12), points off turnovers (24-7), second-chance points (15-5) and bench points (32-18).
Baker continues to be at the forefront of the Wichita State offensive attack, as he tallies 16.2 ppg, the team netting 71.8 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .455 overall and .376 from beyond the arc. Darius Carter (12.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), VanVleet (10.6 ppg, 5.6 apg) and Cotton (10.1 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for the Shockers, who permit only 56.4 ppg, with their opponents dropping just 40.3 percent of their field goal attempts, and 35.3 percent of their long-range launches. Sizable margins in both rebounding (+6.1) and turnovers (+4.0) have certainly helped the Shockers achieve the level of success they have this season.